These are the chronicles of two Shetland Sheepdogs and their adventures in rally-o, obedience, flyball, agility, tracking and therapy dog work.
Also including information on raw feeding, canine epilepsy, positive training, and lots and lots of Sheltie hair!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Hub City Kennel and Obedience Club Dog Show

This weekend Hub City Kennel and Obedience Club is hosting their annual dog show in Saskatoon. Conformation, rally-o, and obedience trials. Including a Shetland Sheepdog specialty and a Saluki specialty.

Conformation judging runs Friday May 1st to Sunday May 3rd, starting at 9:00am each day.
Rally-O trials are at 9:00am and 12:10pm Friday, and 9:00am Saturday.
Obedience trials are at 9:00am Saturday, and 9:00am Sunday.

Held at Prairieland Park, Hall A. Spectators are more than welcome, though only exhibiting dogs are allowed in the facility, so please leave pet dogs at home.

Obedience and conformation fun matches are being held Thursday evening, also at Prairieland Park. Registration at 6:00pm.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Happy Birthday Mr. G!

Today my big boy turns 7 years old! Happy Birthday Geeber!

As is the tradition for the boys' birthdays, we head out to PetSmart with "grandma" and the birthday boy gets to pick out a new toy.

Gio check out everything in the store ...

All the rubber squeakers



Finally, the winner was ...

A MOOSE ... what a Canadian, eh?

Then off to Dairy Queen where the boys got a small lick of ice cream.


Romeo is much more dainty ... this time.

And then time to break in the new Moose.

Happy Birthday my Gio. My true heart-dog. You continue to teach me how to live.

Friday, April 24, 2009


No, maybe "speechless" would be more accurate. Because I can think of a lot of WORDS that I could say right now.

In my non-blog life, I have the mouth of a trucker ... who used to be a sailor ... and might have had some head trauma that results in him blurting out obscenities. I try to keep that reined in on the blog, though, as I realize that some Sheltie-loving children may be browsing through. However, today is deserving of some serious expletives!

It's been a long week. The only time that I have sat down in a somewhat relaxing fashion since last Sunday (when I played hookie from agility class) has been on the toilet. I am home only to sleep and shower it seems. So after this very long week, in which the world has tried its damnedest to be irritating, we finally reach Friday. Aahhh, a lovely Friday at the end of April ...



Yes, this is Canada, more precisely Saskatchewan, so snow isn't totally uncommon here. But at the end of April? Honestly? You're kidding right?

Okay, okay ... *deep breath* ... it does melt as soon as the sun comes out, it isn't really sticking on the ground much. Nothing that won't be gone by tomorrow, anyways. But the whole concept makes me shudder. It's actually quite pretty ... IN DECEMBER!

Good thing my dogs calm me down. I spent the afternoon away from work at a therapy dog visit with Romeo (have I mentioned I have the best boss ever?!). That always brings my blood pressure down a notch or two. And tomorrow I am helping to evaluate a St. John Ambulance therapy dog test, so hopefully we will have another dozen wonderful therapy dog teams to go out and spread the joy very soon! Then, this Sunday is our first weekend NOT having to teach rally-o classes in what seems like forever. The club I am with (Hub City Kennel and Obedience Club - of which I am also webmaster-extraordinaire*) usually takes a bit of a break in the spring/summer to allow our trainers to train their own dogs and travel to trials. Last week all of our classes graduated and now we are off to enjoy our break. What do dog trainers do on a break, you might ask. Well ... they train dogs! Yes, on Sunday, at the regular time we would normally be teaching classes, we are all getting together to go tracking with our dogs. And who says we don't have a life? Huh?!

* So, maybe I just made that name up for myself right now. Maybe I'm not REALLY an extraordinary webmaster. Maybe "web minion" would be more accurate.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

The Sheltie, in other words

Sometimes in life you meet someone that has a wonderful mastery of words. I have been fortunate enough to run into a lady that, not only has a knack for words, but is very knowledgeable when it comes to dog breeds. Lucy Ohannessian was kind enough to allow me to post her description of the Shetland Sheepdog. If you are considering adding a new dog to the family and the Sheltie is on the list of possibilities, this is a "must read"! It can also be very insightful and entertaining for current Sheltie owners.

As a breed matcher, I generally split breeds into four categories. "'A' List" breeds have a strong rate of appeal AND the potential for success if the desire is there to have them...they are adaptable, emotionally stable and are not complex. "'B' list breeds have a similar flexibility but require some directed aspects from their owner that if not fulfilled will lead to discontent. "Niche" breeds are less flexible, less "one sizers," and have a specificity that will connect with some and not with others. Finally, 'high management" breeds are dogs whose fallout from underattentive owners is significant....they require a strong amount of dedication if the owner is to have ultimately been ethical in having taken the breed on. A Lab is a A list, a Husky is a B list, a Chow is a niche, and a Giant Schnauzer is a high management.

The Sheltie is generally regarded as an A list but in fact is better classified as a B list or even high management breed. Their desirability and the rate at which others respond to it are huge. This is a truly gorgeous animal of great beauty, he is exceptionally companionable, he is highly intelligent and one of the most readily trainable of all breeds. He also is far from well qualified to match everyone who might find his premise appealing.

As noted, much early effort must be expended in puppy raising to ensure a confident dog who has avoided shyness. Typical of some herding breeds, he can be sharp, and this is important to remember. The more intense herding breeds are meant for lightning fast reactions that often pairs with emotionality (which helps to ensure intensity). Sharpness isn't meanness, but rather links to reactivity and can be seen in many breed types and be seen precious little in others. Shelties also can have high rates of touch reactivity, and this, too, is a 'to function' link in that herding breeds need to be sensitive to the subject of physical contact given that they are working livestock closely. Compare this to a hound, who has very little need to dart away from unexpected contact or, even closer to home, a German Shepherd, who works stock differently than a collie breed might. This whole nervousness, lightning fast reactions of emotional content and touch reactivity.....can lend a Sheltie improperly socialized and developed to be snappy. It surely is a problem rescue can see much of (much as it is with Am Cockers, who are too soft to process pressure well, which is against the springing mindset for which they are bred).

Another, divided, problem with Shelties has a Collie link in that they are highly prone to separation anxiety. Collies (and by Collies, I mean "the" Collie breed) are famed for a very strong sense of connection to their people. All herding breeds have a natural handler is integral to the work they do....but some view the handler as a channel through which to work (Border Collies) whereas others view the handler more intimately as someone they are aching to please. The latter dogs, given this very strong bond, understandably feel out of sorts to be separated from the master they so adore. Collies, perhaps the most famed within this classification, notoriously pine and fret to be left on their own. Indeed, there are several stories of great treks across the country Collies have made on the own to find the way back to their beloved master, on homing instinct and aching hearts alone. In this herding dog's world, their master is their everything. Shelties have this sensibility as well, perhaps not as exaggerated (it still brings a very pet positive quality in that Shelties looooove their people), but they have it to an extent and onto this is layered, unlike the Collie, a rather high engine dog....between being a busy and responsible dog generally with a need to work AND having social dependency, SA tendencies can skyrocket when the dog is not fairly accomodated, structured and managed.

Finally, Shelties bark a LOT and can be rather intense about it. Barking and herding dogs go hand in is one of the tools of their trade to pronounce their intention and push it forward. When a herding breed teams action with emotion, just on pure genetics, you will often see them barking. This can be quite entertaining at times....many of us have seen Corgis or Shelties barking throughout an agility course, where this tendency is quite darling. However, I see many cases where this is indulged in an inappropriate dynamic, and then it is neither darling nor a good thing, for the dog is getting riled, and due to the greater rates of intensity and emotionality, this can lead to problems. Thereby, barrier frustration (dogs in fenced yards) can be common in the breed as well. Don't mistake that for bravado....a Sheltie is not a terrier and in his case is reacting fearfully and is under extreme stress. Terriers love stress (rat down a hole), Shelties do not....they like mental challenge. Excitable barking is very type specific and comes with the territory....a Sheltie barking within the throes of joy is a touching and enlivening thing to experience.....but a Sheltie barking from defensiveness is fearful and not in control of his world, and thereby the stress of the latter ought not continue unabated for the dog's longterm inner sense of comfort.

And yet still, this breed cannot be considered complex in that he is so intensely trainable and a most willing pupil with superior handler bond. It's one thing to have a scrappy Wire Fox because he'd not going to listen to you anyway, but with a Sheltie, there is absolutely no excuse. The world truly is your oyster with this promising breed. They are impossibly bright and willing, and very driven to please. To me, the dividing lines will always be if the individual can respect the need for intense socialization, upbeat yet sensitive handling, AND that they are MOST drawn to the Sheltie for being a trainable dog. Training builds confidence, challenges the mind, offers structure....all of which are crucial components to a well adjusted Sheltie. If I, conversely, have someone before me who wants a Sheltie because they are pretty and pert dog of a handy size, I will try to talk them off this breed. A Sheltie needs two things to thrive....a dedicated handler (one respectful of his sensitivity) and a life. If those needs are met, that pretty, pert and nifty dog can be enjoyed to his highest advantage.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

This Nose is Made for Sniffin'

This nose ... yes, this one right here. THIS nose did a LOT of work today!

There was a seminar held today on tracking, put on by Carol Aitken of Regina, SK. The seminar was geared at brand new beginners to tracking but I have heard great things about Carol, so even though Gio and I have been playing with tracking for a while now, I decided to attend.

Definitely wasn't disappointed! Carol is a lovely lady and was very helpful and patient with everyone's questions. Very knowledgeable in the sport, both in training and competing, and was able to give great suggestions for a wide variety of breeds. She really knows her stuff!

Gio and I try to get out tracking at least once a month in the summer time. Not as often as we probably should, but with all the other activities that he does, we don't really have the time to do much more than that. Last summer we had sort of plateaued at a certain point. He could do a good length of track, probably a couple hundred yards with one 90 degree turn. But if I tried to add more turns, he wound up getting frustrated and lost. Carol gave some great pointers, suggesting that I lay articles after every turn so that he gets a reward more often. It had never occured to me to place more articles along the track, we had only been working with one article at the very end of the track. So I will definitely be putting this into practice. He has great basics and can problem solve his way through turns, but tends to lose motivation if challenged too much. Hopefully the extra articles will serve as reward enough to encourage him to persevere through the turns.

He had a great time out today, and was thrilled that the little one (aka. Romeo) stayed home so he got to go out working with me, just by himself!

Thank you to Heather for organizing the seminar, Karen for volunteering her beautiful home and property as a venue, and to Carol for traveling up from Regina to share your wisdom with us newbies!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Thwarted Again!

Last night Romeo and one of his little girlfriends, a Cairn Terrier pup names Gem, were playing very sweetly after Rally-O drop-in practice. Of course, the only picture that turned out was this one ...

The minute I pull the camera out, play ceases and all dogs stare at me awaiting further orders. No fail.

You can take my word for it, the play definitely was cute. Except for when SOMEONE ran head first into the metal desk because SOMEONE wasn't watching where he was going! Eyes only for the ladies. Gotta give it to him, though ... Gem is pretty cute, and a total flirt.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Spring has sprung ...

This time of year I am always reminded of a little poem I learned as a child ...

"Spring has sprung, the grass is green
I wonder where my birdy's been.
Oh there he is up in the sky
Dropping whitewash in my eye!"

Yeah ... I was a special child.

I was reminded of that poem this morning when I saw my first Robin of the year! ... I nearly hit it with my car on the way to work.

Don't worry, folks! I missed ... spring will continue unabated!

Monday, April 13, 2009

It's a hard job ... but someone's gotta do it!

Romeo had his first "real" therapy dog visit at Saskatoon City Hospital tonight. Seems like it's been a long time coming. We've been there a number of times for orientations and supervised visits, then I was there a couple of times acting as an evaluator for other teams during their supervised visits. But it has finally reached the point where Romeo and I are doing for-honest therapy dog visits at the hospital. I had to take the opportunity to take some pictures, and true to form, Romeo hammed it up. He is such a sucker for the camera!

I couldn't decide which emotion I liked the most ... what do you think?




Ooh! Is that a ball over there?!

Romeo really loves his job, he's such a show-off and thrills to perform for the nursing staff and patients alike. Of course, I guess it's a pretty sweet job if you can get it ... show up, look cute, get bum scratches, eat some cheese ... hmmm, where do I sign up?

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Update on Gio's Pancreas

I know I haven't updated on this lately, so this is likely as good a time as any.

Gio is doing REALLY well! Seeing how he is now, it is apparent to me that he was ill for quite a while before I really noticed anything. I feel so horrible that I was excusing his condition on his epilepsy meds, thinking it was "normal". Now that he is doing so well, I see that he hasn't been "normal" in a very very long time.

He is due for another phenobarbital level check in about a week, I am also planning on ordering another CBC and chem panel to see how things are progressing there. There was significant improvement last time, things were "nearly" back to normal, so the vet said that it isn't necessary to check it again. But I just want to make sure, what is another $50 for some peace of mind knowing that things are progressing as they should be?

Gio was on the canned yuck diet for about 3 weeks and did horribly on it! Sure, his pancreas issues were improving, but everything else was going down hill. He had developed some reaction so that all the hair on his feet and around his mouth turned pink, his nose was crusted over, eye goobers constantly, orange teeth (yes, orange ... not yellow, but slimey orange), horrible diarrhea and "ass fumes of death". The vets were convinced that the diarrhea was just him adjusting to the canned food, so I decided to switch him to a home prepared pancreatic diet as I had no intentions of keeping him on the canned yuck for any length of time anyways. He has been on a home-made diet of juiced veggies and pulp, egg and/or liver, and cooked white fish for a couple of weeks now. His paw hair is back to white again, nose and eye crusties are gone, diarrhea and flatulence cleared up instantly. Teeth are still orange ... but not quite the radioactive color that they were on the canned food. I'm hoping that I can introduce some food that actually requires chewing in the next couple of months, so that should help the tooth issue significantly.

As for attitude, he is like a fiesty pup again! The switch from potassium bromide to phenobarbital for his seizure control has been a great thing for him. No seizures, so the meds are doing their job so far, and the side effects are much less than they were before. He is rowdy and pestering the hell out of Romeo nearly constantly. He is back to working Rally-O/obedience again (working for a tennis ball reward instead of treats) and performing at the top of his game! Just an overall happy boy again!

Friday, April 10, 2009

Here comes Peter Cotton-Tail ...

I tried to find bunny ears or something fun and "Easter-y" while out and about this morning. But apparently I was a little too ambitious and got to the mall before everything opened at noon. All I could find (and afford) were a little basket and a dozen plastic eggs. The boys had fun with those, though.

Romeo thought it was a great game to pull each egg out of the basket one by one ...

"Look what I found! EGGGEEEE!"

Gio protested when I tried to get him to hold the basket in his mouth.

"Nope. Not gonna do it. No way, no how."

"Oh. You have a cookie! Well, why didn't you say so?"

Please note, that Gio's small picture in the Easter greeting image counts as another reason why Shelties have long noses.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Daily Dog Tips

Wow! I just received some really exciting news. I have been invited to submit tips to Dogster's Dog Tip of the Day Blog! The blog sends out helpful dog tips, one every day, to people through Twitter, RSS feed, and e-mail. So if you follow the Tip Blog, stay tuned because yours truly may be making an appearance some time soon!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Creek Jumpin'

We took a wander over to the park for a run today after work. It's getting quite sloppy out there with all the snow melting, so the boys found a little "creek" that they had a great time leaping over. Well, "over" may not be completely accurate. I think there were a lot of "almost overs", maybe one or two real "overs". Mostly "splashes".

I think Gio might have cleared this one.

... And he didn't clear this one.

Romeo had a couple good splashes, too.

And this one.

What a handsome old man!

There were some very soggy Shelties after our walk.

Soggy, but happy.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Snow Melt 2009


There is also a fair bit of mud.

But I can't complain too much, could be a lot worse ... like ALL mud. At least there are hits of grass in some areas of the yard.

My driveway lake is nearly dried up. I've tried digging a channel from the driveway to the main road, but the slope isn't right so even with the channel the water doesn't drain much. I just have to wait for it to dry up on its own.

Here is the comparison picture. The big snow piles are nearly gone.


Saturday, April 4, 2009

Adventures in Herding

There is a facility about an hour's drive out of Saskatoon that offers herding lessons and workshops. Dog Tale Ranch is a fabulous place and Arlette is so incredibly helpful and knowledgeable. A group of us went out for the afternoon to introduce our dogs to sheep. Romeo has met sheep once before when he got his Herding Instinct Certificate at the age of 11 months, but since then his life has been sheep-free ... unless you count the freezer full of sheep for dog food, that is.

Romeo had a great time and actually started to catch on quite well near the end! It started with a lot of barking and splitting the sheep up, but once I figured out what I was supposed to be doing it worked out a lot better. By the end of the afternoon, Romeo was able to get the sheep out of corners (most of the time) and move them about half way around the arena. I'm sure he would have done better if he had a handler that had half a clue. The instructor even referred to him as "a dynamite little dog"! Go Romer!

He had such a good time and caught on really well, I'm eager to be able to get out there again. They are holding some clinics this summer, so maybe I will sign Romeo and me up to see what else we can learn.

The other dogs that went, Kit and Sam, both Border Collies, had a jolly good time as well. Kit was amazing for her first time seeing sheep. She clearly knows what to do and sank right into the role. Sam was just glad to be out playing with his "mom". Once all the snow melt and we are able to work out in a paddock, we will likely all go out again to let the dogs go at it.

Here are a few of my favorite pictures from the day. Thanks to the camera-people!

If anyone wants to see all the pictures from this afternoon's herding adventure (including all the blurry and unflattering ones), Here is the link for the Picasa album. It also includes pictures of Kit and Sam, as well as Jade the beautiful resident Border Collie that was polite enough to let our green dogs work HER sheep!
Copyright & Link Restriction

Please do not use any text or images from this blog without expressed permission of the blog owner. If you are a organization, group, community, commercial site, are acting on behalf of a commercial site (sponsored by them), or are trying to build an audience for any site with the intent of financial gain, YOU MUST obtain permission from the blog owner BEFORE reproducing or copying any material from this site, or embedding this blogs feed into your own site.